There’s a common misconception that travel is reserved for the young, the unattached, the-ramen-loving-hostel-dwelling-fresh-out-of-college vagabonds. Too many people believe that once they enter their thirties and take on more responsibilities, their travel window has expired.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
My good friends Ted Aldrich and Caroline Edge, whom I have know since I was a teenager, have an insatiable appetite for travel, adventure and international volunteer work. They have completed several Habitat for Humanity stints, most recently in Nepal, where they also went birding and diving.
Ted recently celebrated his 80th birthday, capping off a truly remarkable year for them both. Their Christmas letter alone reads like a page out of National Geographic.
I reached out to Ted and Caroline, who were more than happy to help me out and prove that without a shadow of a doubt, you are never too old for an adventure!
Below are a few excerpts from their 2019 Christmas letter. Ted eloquently took pen to paper to bring their travels to life, while Caroline helped with the gorgeous photography.
“Temple columns sit on pads and dance to earthquakes.” – Ted Aldrich
“The Girl With the Pearl Earring” gazes at me from behind my desk. My mind stretches but falls light years short of Vermeer’s creativity as I struggle to paint a meaningful picture of 2019. I verbally scratch the surface of profound experiences and add a few pictures. If you follow Caroline on Facebook much of what follows will be familiar. Otherwise welcome aboard HMS “Change”, our hectic 2019 voyage whose pace makes me dizzy.
Cambodia (January – February)
Joanne, Caroline and I celebrate our arrival with supper at the Kanell Dinner Show.
In the morning we begin birding and paying homage to 500 acre Angkor Wat. Built for Vishnu in the 12th century, this Hindu temple is now Buddhist. Weather, age, gravity and man have all taken a toll on its opulence, including lotus buds alive and in stone.
Our bird guide Mr. Mony leads us to multiple temples, some still standing with a little help from Mother Nature.
Mr. Mony adapts to our needs and is competent when Joanne is injured, leading to a two hour drive on gravel roads to the nearest hospital and rebooked “tenting” for the night. We reach views of Laos, then Vietnam, visit the Mekong and fresh water Irrawaddy Dolphin, all with opportunities for good birding until I break for a day of mediocre dives.
Cambodians are rarely over forty. They are poor but good natured survivors of the Khmer Rouge killing fields.
The children capture our hearts.
We highlight our visit (indeed maybe the year) completing most of two Habitat homes, one for a family of seven.
At each day’s end our families take our hands and walk us back to our bus. Dad takes mine and as our eyes meet I see tears. My emotions crescendo as our language barrier and differences disappear.
Japan – May
If a butterfly flight could be planned, Caroline could do it! Joanne, Caroline and I flutter self-indulgent most of May. We start in Kensington with a private tour, we escalate the day I dive, and reach a zenith with our favorite Wings guide, Susan Myers. Japanese technology is astounding, from simple amenities in our hotel rooms (like self- flushing toilets with heated seats) to the bullet train (a 45 mile leg takes 13 minutes, including gentle acceleration and deceleration suggesting speeds over 200 mph)!
Our learning curve begins in Kyoto with morning meditation.
Temple columns sit on pads and dance to earthquakes.
“Nightingale” hallways “squeak” when walked, warning residents of intruders.
We drink in a tea ceremony and dine Geisha style during a Maiko Performance and visit a cemetery with 200,000 graves.
We hike 1000 of Fushimi’s 10,000 Torii Gates.
In Narita we become a flock of seven, adding knowledgeable birder and photographer, Kevin Watson, and father and daughter first timers Joe and Mari Yukawa. Susan exceeds our expectations with birds and life forms, fluent Japanese and plans that bring us new birds, experiences and places from Honshu to Okinawa.
Zohar Paz, PADI MSDT, in his tuxedo wetsuit is an excellent guide and renews my quest for weightlessness – to look for gems worldwide.
-Ted and Caroline